It’s almost laughable as I don’t know what to do anymore. I tried to restart the smart speakers, approach the HomePod mini pair with the iPhone 13, and use the U1 chip integration, but the experience is very unreliable.
For a company that praises the instant connection of AirPods, it’s so weird how unreliable AirPlay can be. Sometimes, Control Center says a song is playing in one of the HomePods, but there’s no sound at all. Eventually, the AirPlay section says all HomePods are paired, and a few seconds later I see that one of them disconnected.
Every time there's a software update to either the HomePods or Apple TV it can take an hour of rebooting and resetting devices to get things working, and then only if you're lucky. If you do manage to get things working it won't last long before you get a seemingly random disconnection of some sort.
It's a nightmare and I can't imagine how this passed Apple's QA. It has all the look of a feature that was rushed to market before it's ready.
I gave up. I ran an optical cable between my TV and my Hi-Fi system and pushed the sound through there instead.
If your aim is to use a stereo pair of HomePod Minis as Apple TV speakers, I suggest you instead buy a baseball bat and smack yourself in the face with it — it'll be far less painful.